Strategies for Developing an Effective Team

What is it?

A team is made up of a group of people working together to achieve a common goal. An effective team has certain characteristics that allow the team members to function more efficiently and productively. An effective team develops ways to share leadership roles and ways to share accountability for their work products, shifting the emphasis from the individual to several individuals within the team. A team also develops a specific team purpose and concrete work products that the members produce together.

How does it work?

Effective teams will have open-ended meetings and develop active problem-solving strategies that go beyond discussing, deciding, and delegating what to do; they do real work together. When necessary, individuals in a team will set aside their own work to assist other members of the team. In a well-functioning team, performance is based not on an individual member’s ability to influence other members, but rather is assessed directly by measuring the work products of the whole team. Rewards based on the whole team’s effort help underscore the importance of team responsibility.

How to use it:

There are several ways in which a supervisor can help clinic managers and staff become a strong team:

  1. Establish objectives together: Define performance objectives with the team and make sure that all team members understand the objectives and what actions will need to be taken to achieve them.
  2. Develop a participatory style: Encourage staff to suggest ways to improve services. Listen to their ideas and acknowledge their points of view. Encourage team members to discuss issues and to find solutions together.
  3. Focus on contributions: Define objectives for having all team members actively contribute to the meeting. Introduce team members to the ways in which they can participate.
  4. Organize meetings: Hold meetings with the whole team during supervisory visits. Discuss supervisory and clinic objectives and encourage the team to discuss their concerns.
  5. Organize the team: Define roles and responsibilities together. If everyone has a clear role, individuals will be less likely to become frustrated and will be more willing to work together. Agree on who will assume leadership roles for different team activities.
  6. Explain the rules: Discuss all norms and standards that have been established for this clinic by the Ministry or the organization. Explain the rationale for these rules and discuss their implications in day-to-day practice.
  7. Promote team responsibility: Encourage members of the clinic team to take responsibility for completing specific tasks and to solve problems as a team. Introduce rewards only if the entire team meets objectives.
  8. Establish time commitments: Schedule when and how each team member will devote time to team work. Determine if team work will require other staff to take on extra work, and, if so, discuss this with all staff and obtain their commitment. Monitor actual vs. planned time carefully and clarify all adjustments in schedule.

Seven Characteristics of an Effective Team

  1. Team members share leadership roles
  2. Team develops own scope of work
  3. Team schedules work to be done and commits to taking time allotted to do work
  4. Team develops tangible work products
  5. Team members are mutually accountable for work products
  6. Performance is based on achieving team products
  7. Problems are discussed and resolved by the team

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